If I had an epitaph written for me as a 'boss' I would much rather it read: 'She made our company a happy one,' than 'She made our company a bigger and more profitable one'.
There has been a lot written about happiness in the workplace recently - what it does for efficiencies, productivity, staff retention and loyalty. So I am not being entirely altruistic. I think if I succeed in creating a happy company I will probably deliver against the 'harder' objectives I get set every year far more easily.
So how can I make sure that is the epitaph my team would give me?
Have a vision and communicate it
We all feel happier when we know where we are going. Whether you are leading a country or a company you need a vision. Tell people what your ambition for the business is, involve them in establishing how we will achieve it, and make sure everyone understands what their role is in accomplishing that vision.
Be a cup half full person...
I am an optimist. I see the best in people, the silver lining in a cloud and the ray of light at the end of a long dark corridor. I don't mean naïve optimism, I mean well-grounded confident optimism in your team, their talents, and their ability to deliver great work and great results for their clients. Happiness needs positivity, enthusiasm and energy.
...And hire cup half full people
A happy company is a product of everyone in it, not just its leader. When I am interviewing I look for people with a positive view on life. Their attitude is just as important as their skill base and ability to do the job. To have a happy company you need to fill it with 'can do', positive people, who buoy each other up and who radiate positivity. And for those who don't - well perhaps you have to gently persuade them they might be happier elsewhere!
Make sure you have a culture where people say thank you and take an interest in each other's lives. Lead by example here: say hello, ask what's going on. Be human. It's okay to let your hair down and have a giggle with people. And stamp on bitchiness and bad mouthing. Cheer people on when life is good, support them when it is bad. Do birthday cakes in the office and sing happy birthday accompanied by a company-wide Mexican Wave. The little things count - decent coffee and a nice environment make a difference.
Celebrate the good....
Recognise what has gone well and take every opportunity to enjoy it. Shout about your company's achievements.
...And acknowledge the bad
Encourage people to talk when things go wrong or are difficult. Avoid blame, learn from the bad and move on.
Empower people to be the best they can be
We know people are happier when they feel they are growing, developing, learning new things and stretching themselves. We trained all our senior team in coaching techniques and aim to have a coaching culture where we encourage people to solve their own problems, to push themselves out of their comfort zone from time to time, allowing them ultimately to grow.
That might all sound a bit idealistic - I realise people can't be happy all the time, but think about doing some form of resilience training and give access to counselling via an employee assistance programme for when life gets tough.
And remember we aren't talking about paradise happiness here, we are talking about everyday contentment. There are some people who will never think of themselves as being happy at work, they tend to think of a happy company as one where life is always sweet, where everyone smiles and where it's all fun, fun, fun - a bit like Disneyland - set up to deliver happiness. That's just not what it's all about, but it's perfectly realistic to expect one's company to be a place that delivers everyday happiness - a warm smile, a pat on the back, a hug when one is down, a sense of achievement, a knowledge that you are working towards and part of a greater thing.
I hope that I can live up to all this and eventually will end up with an epitaph I am proud of. I am sure my team will tell me if I don't.